To Succeed, Should You Specialize?

In today’s market, does job specialization help or hinder one’s career? A new article published by John-Paul Ferguson and Sharique Hasan of Stanford University in Administrative Science Quarterly, “Specialization and Career Dynamics: Evidence from the Indian Administrative Service,” provides a unique perspective on this debate:

There are advantages to focusing on one thing. Whether it is because of skills that one learns on the job or because of the clearer signals of identity that one sends to potential employers, specializing can help an employee get ahead. Yet there are also advantages to broad experience. These might accrue from developing different skills or might be due to the ability to broker between different domains of expertise…

????????????????????????????In this paper, we use a rich set of longitudinal data about the background, work experiences, and career outcomes of officers in the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) to parse the effect of specialization on career advancement. These data help us with both of these problems. First, the structure of the IAS minimizes variance in unobserved ability and rules out self-selection and survivor bias. This allows us to estimate more convincing, causal benefits of specialization on career advancement. Second, the IAS data include information about skills its officers acquire in each job, as well as the skill requirements of each job.

Click here to read the article in Administrative Science Quarterly, and visit the journal’s OnlineFirst section for more brand-new articles on organizational studies.

This entry was posted in Careers and tagged , , , , by Cynthia Nalevanko, Editor, SAGE Publishing. Bookmark the permalink.

About Cynthia Nalevanko, Editor, SAGE Publishing

Founded in 1965, SAGE is the world’s leading independent academic and professional publisher. Known for our commitment to quality and innovation, SAGE has helped inform and educate a global community of scholars, practitioners, researchers, and students across a broad range of subject areas. With over 1500 employees globally from principal offices in Los Angeles, London, New Delhi, Singapore, Washington DC, and Melburne, our publishing program includes more than 1000 journals and over 900 books, reference works and databases a year in business, humanities, social sciences, science, technology and medicine. Believing passionately that engaged scholarship lies at the heart of any healthy society and that education is intrinsically valuable, SAGE aims to be the world’s leading independent academic and professional publisher. This means playing a creative role in society by disseminating teaching and research on a global scale, the cornerstones of which are good, long-term relationships, a focus on our markets, and an ability to combine quality and innovation. Leading authors, editors and societies should feel that SAGE is their natural home: we believe in meeting the range of their needs, and in publishing the best of their work. We are a growing company, and our financial success comes from thinking creatively about our markets and actively responding to the needs of our customers.

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